1.) Quote - A relevant and bold quote by someone famous is a popular way to start an article or other type of lengthy paper. Make sure that your quote supports your thesis in some way.
2.) Statistic - People like to read numbers, fractions, and percentages. They pack a punch (get the reader's attention in a strong way). They focus the reader's thoughts on your subject right away.
3.) Anecdote - An anecdote is a little story, and by little, I mean three or four sentences at most. This story should relate to your thesis and your subject.
4.) Background information - Tell your readers a bit about the history of your subject. Keep it brief and to the point, however. You want to leave room in your introduction for your main point, your thesis.
5.) Contrast - Start your essay out with a story, a quote, or some other piece of information that is nearly the opposite of what you will discuss in your paper. You will startle the reader when you switch the viewpoint of your topic at the end of the introduction essay. For example, you might start out talking about how your mother used to put on make-up every morning before she left the house, and how now, she doesn't care, and how she would rather sleep late than get up early to do her make-up. This might be appropriate for an essay on the importance of self-image.